ST:TNG 5.17 The Outcast ~ Star Trek: The Next Generation Re-Watch

Riker falls for someone from a gender neutral race in 5.17 The Outcast.

Images Source: TrekCore

Star Trek: The Next Generation Re-Watch continues with ...

The Outcast
Season 5, Episode 17

  • While The Enterprise is helping the J'naii search for missing crew members who are believed to have entered a phenomena called 'null space', Riker and one of the J'naii who are androgynous start to form a relationship as Soren reveals she associates with being female.
    Character Focus:
    • The androgynous race of The J'naii, and more specifically Soren, the pilot who works closely with, confides in and develops feelings for Riker.
    • Riker is also a focus, not only for starting to have a relationship with Soren, but also for going pretty far to support Soren by interrupting a legal proceeding as well as a rescue attempt.
    What I remembered about this episode:
    • I remember this one very well, by being both amazed by the idea of an androgynous race but also horrified in their procedure to 'cure' Soren.
    What I noticed now, that I didn't notice then:
    • I think this episode feels leaps and bounds ahead of it's time talking about gender identity, so much so that the terms that people use now are I think are different than then. Even the term androgynous feels not quite to fit the description of the J'naii who seem more like gender neutral. And I wonder what relationships of the J'naii are like, which they didn't really get into except mating for procreation.
    • It's also a great example on the ideas and discussions of equality, choice, attraction, gender, romance and a whole slew of other topics.
    • All the very frank discussions between Soren and Riker, and also Beverly, are fascinating. It's a great example of open discussions, that can start a little awkward but are often about genuine curiosity and usually swerve back to being open and thoughtful.
    • There is a great subtle scene at the end where Picard asks Riker if the involvement with the J'naii is done, where he is asking without asking if he's rescue attempt has been finished.
    What feels different now, than then:
    • It felt a little quick to go into "I Love You" territory, although I love the scene when Riker talks to Troi about Soren because it was so open and honest about how their relationship will change but they will also always be in each others lives. Very sweet, but also pretty deep.
    What remained the same:
    • I'm still horrified by the J'naii's 'curing' of people by taking away their feelings to be one gender instead of androgynous; and calling them 'deviants'.
    • Soren's speech at the proceeding is amazing, making a great argument for choice, acceptance and empathy. This one really hits me because it showcases the horror of intolerance for being different, which is something I feel very strongly about.
    • I barely paid any attention to the 'plot'-plot about the null-space ship disappearance.
    What I see differently:
    • They is something I see differently about the idea of the J'naii being presented as 'neutral' in a lot of ways and therefore unemotional, but does that mean they never get excited or intrigued by anything? I know there are so many layers they present in this episode so Soren's show of active interest was instantly interpreted as a romantic thing threw me off. But then again, many people picked up on the chemistry between Riker and Soren from Dr. Crusher to Troi.
    • I think this is the first time we see someone covertly take active action outside The Prime Directive *and* against orders as Riker does this here with Worf's help. Data's done some crazy stuff and Geordi almost assassinated someone, but neither were in control of their own actions.
    Great Quotes:
    • "The idea of gender - it is offensive to my people. You see, long ago, we had two sexes, as you do. But we evolved into a higher form. I don't mean to sound insulting; but on my planet, we have been taught that gender is... primitive." - Soren
    • "Did it occur to you that she might like to stay the way she is?" - Picard
    • "I am female. I was born that way. I have had those feelings, those longings, all of my life. It is not unnatural. I am not sick because I feel this way. I do not need to be helped. I do not need to be cured. What I need, and what all of those who are like me need, is your understanding. And your compassion." - Soren
    Left off at:
    When Soren is sentenced to be 'cured' of associating with being female, Riker stages a rescue attempt with the help of Worf. When they arrive on the planet, the procedure has already taken place and Soren tells Riker that she is 'happy' to be cured, and that she doesn't know why she did the things she did with him and should have known they were 'wrong'.

    Images Source: TrekCore


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